Dylan Thomas prize won by Australian for 'haunting' stories

Fiona McFarlane with her book Image copyright Swansea University

The International Dylan Thomas Prize has been won by an Australian writer for her "haunting" and "moving" collection of short stories.

Fiona McFarlane, 39, was named winner for The High Places on Wednesday after six works were shortlisted.

The £30,000 prize is given annually to a writer aged 39 or under - the age of the Swansea-born poet when he died.

It is in its 11th year and is awarded ahead of International Dylan Thomas Day, which is on Sunday this year.

Chairman of judges, Prof Dai Smith from Swansea University, said The High Places was chosen from an initial long list of 12, adding it "brought the reader to characters, situations and places which were haunting in their oddity and moving in their human empathy".

Image caption Dylan Day was created following the festival marking the centenary of his birth in 2014

Short stories included one about a scientist living on an island with only a giant squid and the ghost of Charles Darwin for company and a farmer who turns to the Old Testament to relieve a drought.

The prize is considered one of the richest in the world for young fiction writers and is given for a published work.

Those shortlisted this year included Pigeon by Alys Conran from Bangor, Gwynedd, while the first winner in 2006 was Fresh Apples by Rachel Trezise from Cwmparc, Rhondda Cynon Taff.

International Dylan Thomas Day is marked on 14 May - the date his play under Milk Wood was first read on a New York stage in 1953.

Image caption The books shortlisted for the prize in 2017

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